food for all

Energy Bites: A mindful, budget-conscious and crunchy as hell snack

I'm not a nutritionist or wellness expert, nor pretend to be. But, I do enjoy good food and I'm a staunch believer of eating well no matter your economic status - both from experience and simply as a point of principle. Even in the leanest of economic times, I refuse to eat like an idiot. It takes planning and it sounds so basic, but, put the time in once (Sundays are my meal-prep days) and you save time, money, superfluous plastic packaging and silly eating missteps later. My go-to, budget-conscious recommendation: energy bites!

My friend Kaitlin Clark, a certified nutrition and wellness consultant and the brains behind Integrative Healing Arts, first made these snacks for me in 2010, and I've made versions of them ever since. The brilliance of these snacks are that they are (1) no bake! (2) suited to whatever ingredients you have on hand (or can be acquired on a budget-friendly trip to the grocery store) and (3) adjusted or modified to your tastes.

Energy Bite add-ins: bee pollen, unsweetened coconut flakes, hemp hearts, chia seeds, walnuts

Energy Bite add-ins: bee pollen, unsweetened coconut flakes, hemp hearts, chia seeds, walnuts

The basic components:

  • protein (in the form of nut or seed butters [tahini, almond, sunflower, etc.], ground or chopped nuts or seeds, and/or a scoop or two of your favorite [no to low sugar] protein powder)
  • something sweet (local honey or maple syrup)
  • add-ins (like cocoa/cacao, chia seeds, hemp hearts, a pinch of ground flax seeds, green powders/herbs, bee pollen, shredded coconut, mini-chocolate chips, dried or blended fruit like raisins, cranberries, dates or figs, etc.)

They are crunchy as hell, but they are delicious, no-bake, customizable, and totally worth it.

Have some time today to plan for the week ahead and start eating more mindfully? Check out the two recipes from Kaitlin - the expert - to get started, and check out my preferred combination below. (**Disclaimer: While you should experiment with ingredients in these recipes, please consult with a professional if you have never used certain powders or dried herbs to avoid any complications with medications or triggers to known allergies.**)

Recipe 2: Energy Bites (courtesy of Kaitlin Clark of Integrative Healing Arts)


  • 2-3 parts (1/2-2/3 c.) ground pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
  • 1 part (1/2 c.) ginseng root powder
  • 1 part (1/3-1/2 c.) part gingko or gotu kola
  • 1/2 part (1/8 c.) spirulina, greens powder or chlorella
  • 1 cup nut/seed butter (tahini, almond, sunflower, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup local honey (more or less for taste)
  • Add ons: 1/2 cup crushed almonds, mini vegan chocolate chips, raising, goji berries, etc.

Recipe 1: Brain Bites (courtesy of Kaitlin Clark of Integrative Healing Arts)


  • 1 cup nut/seed butter (tahini, almond, sunflower, etc.)
  • 1 part (1/2 cup) ginkgo leaf (powder)
  • 1/2 cup local honey (more or less for taste)
  • 1 part (1/2 cup) ginseng root powder
  • 1 part (1/2 cup) Brahmi Powder
  • vegan chocolate chips (mini!)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao, or cocoa nibs
  • Add ons: finely chopped walnuts, almonds, shredded coconuts, raisins, hemp seeds, etc.


  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the seed/nut butters with honey/maple syrup.
  2. Blend in powdered herbs, chips, add-ons (Pro-tip: Finely chop by using a coffee grinder or small food processor)
  3. Roll into tablespoon-size balls. (Pro-tip: I use a small ice cream scooper - even less work!)
  4. In a shallow bowl or plate, roll into coconut shreds, hemp seeds, etc.
  5. Place on plate or lined-cookie sheet and place in the freezer.
  6. Once frozen, you can wrap them up in a bag, plate or container of your choice.

Recipe/Variation 3: Al's Combo

Not to be confused with a bad Italian sandwich, but, in fact, this is my preferred combination of ingredients for energy bites, following Kaitlin's proportions and instructions from above. My go-to combo: almond butter, local honey/local maple syrup, unsweetened vegan protein powder, cocoa/cacoa powder, unsweetened shredded coconut flakes, ground walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin/sunflower seeds.

What you should be watching: "Food Forward"

I finally got a chance to watch a few episodes of PBS's Food Forward series, and, well, it's totally worth checking out. My favorites so far? "Food (Justice) For All" and "Quest for Water" (find the full episodes here).

As of late, there seem to be a number of issues that cripple us from moving forward. But, food can be the gateway to taking back our lives and helping people realize their full potential. Food is also a vehicle to recognize our place in nature. This isn't a hippy dippy realization, but, rather, in the case of food and water, we cannot have one without the other or neglect the connection.

As daunting as the task is to, oh, you know, reshape our food system, I'm so inspired to watch all these amazing individuals participate in and lead a fair food revolution. This series is hopeful and enlightening - two elements very much needed for change to occur.

You can watch season one of Food Forward here.